London, Jun 28: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday reacted to a racist slur targeted at him, saying it made him “hurt and angry”.

Speaking to reporters on the general election campaign trail, Sunak said his two daughters, Krishna and Anoushka, had to see and hear Reform UK activists who campaigned for party leader Nigel Farage “calling me a Paki".

"It hurts, and it makes me angry," the 44-year-old British Indian leader said, adding that Farage has questions to answer.

Sunak noted: "I don't repeat those words lightly. I do so deliberately because this is too important not to call out clearly for what it is.

"When you see Reform candidates and campaigners, seemingly using racist and misogynistic language and opinions seemingly without challenge, I think it tells you something about the culture within the Reform Party."

He was speaking after a campaigner for the far-right Reform UK was filmed using the slur considered racist towards people of South Asian heritage, forcing the party's leader and general election candidate Nigel Farage to condemn the actions as “appalling”.

Reform UK is fielding hundreds of candidates in the July 4 election on an anti-immigration stance with the hope of posing a major challenge for the incumbent Conservative Party, which is heavily trailing in the polls. However, with the election called earlier than expected, the party has been unable to fully vet all its campaigners and one of them – Andrew Parker – was filmed by an undercover reporter from Channel 4.

“The appalling sentiments expressed by some in these exchanges bear no relation to my own views, those of the vast majority of our supporters or Reform UK,” Farage said in a statement.

The same activist was also heard suggesting army recruits with guns should be posted to “just shoot” illegal migrants landing on UK beaches. Speaking at a campaign event on Thursday, Farage said that “one or two people let us down and we let them go” but added that “in most cases they're just speaking like ordinary folk”.

The 60-year-old divisive politician is making his eighth attempt to be elected to Parliament after seven failed bids. This time, polls suggest a comfortable lead for him in the race to represent the seaside town of Clacton-on-Sea.

While Reform is likely to win only a handful of seats, at most, in the 650-seat House of Commons, Farage says his goal is to get a foothold and lead the “real” Opposition to a Labour Party government – which is widely expected to succeed the Sunak-led Tories after the general election. The British Indian leader has, meanwhile, warned voters that a vote for Reform UK was effectively a vote in favour of a tax-raising Labour Party. He has also hit back at Farage's own controversial statements claiming that the West had provoked Russian President Vladimir Putin into attacking Ukraine.

“What he said was wrong, it was completely wrong. It plays into Putin's hand,” Sunak told ‘The Telegraph'.

“This is the guy [Putin] who used nerve agents on British streets, he's doing deals with North Korea. That is who we're talking about here. This kind of appeasement is very damaging not just for our security, but the security of our allies that depend on us and it emboldens Putin further,” he said.

Senior Tories are worried that disaffected party supporters switching to Reform UK could cost them seats and hand Labour a “super-majority” in the election.

Sunak attempted to reach out to this disaffected set of voters in the last week before the election with a plea that a “Labour government isn't just something that you buy that if you decide you don't like you can take back to the shop and return it”.

“It's going to have profound consequences for you and your family, potentially for decades if they change the system to stay in power that long. So you should think very carefully about the choice at this election because it has consequences,” he said.

It comes as his party continues to battle the betting scandal engulfing the Tories, with his chief of staff said to be assisting with the Gambling Commission's ongoing inquiries into possible cheating behind some candidates betting on a July election date based on insider knowledge. PTI